Focus on women’s sports, volunteers

Last week proved to be a significant and busy one in New Zealand — Parliament convened under urgency, and important sports events and community achievements took place.

I was kept busy representing our region in Parliament as well as being in the whip’s chair, speaking on several Bills and travelling around the country and the region.

The spotlight shone brightly on women’s sports as New Zealand and Australia jointly hosted the Fifa Women’s World Cup, the largest women’s sporting event in the world.

The New Zealand Football Ferns started the tournament on a high note by winning their first-ever game in the World Cup.

This historic victory etched their names into New Zealand’s football history as the first team

— men’s or women’s — to achieve such a feat on the world stage.

The local Filipino community came out to support their home country’s football team during their match against Switzerland in Dunedin.

Seeing this was a great reminder of the Filipino community in Southland, who enrich the region’s social fabric with diversity, culture and skills.

Several volunteer awards evenings have also been held in Southland recently, honouring the service of individuals who dedicate their time to support their communities.

Time is the most precious of all gifts, and our volunteers give much of it.

I was fortunate to attend some of the award evenings, including the Otago Southland Hato Hone St John Awards in Gore and Lumsden Volunteer Fire Brigade honours night to thank them for the selfless work they do for our community.

As a volunteer firefighter for several years myself, I know it’s not just the volunteers who give up their time to serve community, but also employers and family.

They often miss precious family moments and work hours to serve and protect the community.

Our heartfelt appreciation also goes to them.

We’ve had some incredibly successful local sports success recently with Sheldon Bagrie-Howley, Thomas Cockerill and Elliot Mason’s victory from the Gore Bowling Club crowned the newest New Zealand Champion of Champion triples team.

Their determination and performance throughout the tournament exemplify the spirit of sportsmanship.